Pictured: Mookie Betts
Source: Ezra Shaw / Getty Image North America

Baltimore Orioles

The teardown of the Orioles began in July as they spiraled deeper into last place in the American League East. The task of rebuilding was next on the docket and ensured that they wouldn’t contend again for at least a few years. There’s no timetable given and no reason to believe in a quick fix. Changes have ripped apart the organization like a tornado — a new head of baseball operations, new assistants, a new manager and new director of player development and director of scouting. The Orioles got a late start in making the hires and evaluating the talent on their roster, which doesn’t stack up to their division rivals. It isn’t close. They took a hard fall into last place with 115 losses, worst in the majors, and reaching triple-digit losses again is a realistic possibility.

Boston Red Sox

And now comes the hard part — when the encore doubles as the farewell tour. The Red Sox shocked baseball with a run of wire-to-wire dominance unwitnessed since the 1998 Yankees, winning 108 games and their fourth World Series title since 2004. They cleared every obstacle in their path, from Opening Day, when the bullpen imploded vs. Tampa, to Game 3 of the World Series, when a walk-off homer beat them in the 18th inning. They return basically their entire roster, but change is coming. In the next two years alone, free agency looms for standouts such as Chris Sale, J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Rick Porcello and Jackie Bradley Jr. They’ll be motivated to go for broke, because this isn’t the start of a budding dynasty. It’s already the last waltz.

New York Yankees

This will give you an idea of the lofty expectations the Yankees face in 2019: Last year’s 100-win campaign, which ended when the Yanks gave the eventual champion Red Sox their toughest October series, is generally considered a flop in New York. Too harsh? Maybe. But the loaded Yankees are a World Series-or-bust team again, thanks to big-name stars such as Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, blooming youngsters like Gleyber Torres and a velocity-crazed bullpen. 

GM Brian Cashman re-signed Brett Gardner and CC Sabathia and bolstered the rotation by trading for Seattle lefty James Paxton and re-signing J.A. Happ. Paxton could be the October ace the Yankees crave, and he and Luis Severino should lead a rotation that just might be the key to toppling Boston in the brawny American League East. 

The Yankees, with all their young talent, are set up to contend for years, but they might have to go through Boston to get back to the World Series — which would be a nice way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their last championship season.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays were quite pleased to win 90 games in a 2018 season that started brutally bad and included a string of key injuries that forced them to employ some innovative strategy.

But they were far from satisfied.

Team officials started talking that way right from the start of the offseason, plotting to be aggressive and take advantage of some rare financial flexibility to do so at a higher price point. And they showed they were serious about making the most of their window to contend, working an early November trade to acquire catcher Mike Zunino in a sell-high deal for outfielder Mallex Smith in the first in a series of moves that may continue up until Opening Day.

By Christmas, the Rays had let veteran closer Sergio Romo and outfielder Carlos Gomez become free agents, DFA’d leading home run hitter C.J. Cron (getting only the $50,000 waiver fee), signed free agent starter Charlie Morton to a two-year, $30 million deal, swapped supposed cornerstone first baseman Jake Bauers for hard-hitting Yandy Diaz and traded three minor league pitchers in a deal that netted reliever Emilio Pagan (plus a draft pick).

Rather than seeking to plug specific holes, senior VP Chaim Bloom said their approach was more about saying, “Okay, we have this group now that did what they did last year, that we feel strongly about their futures; how can we help support that group to put them in the best position to do what we didn’t do this past year, which is pop champagne and get to the postseason?” 

Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays head into the new season firmly fixated on building for the future after definitively closing their previous competitive window during a miserable 2018. At the transition’s forefront is top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who tore through Double-A and Triple-A while earning wide acclaim as the best prospect in baseball. Guerrero, who will be 20 on Opening Day, is the first such franchise-altering talent acquired and developed internally since Carlos Delgado, and for the team to avoid an extended period of pain, he’ll need to hit the ground running after Josh Donaldson became the latest star slugger to depart the club. Once called up, likely after his free agency has been pushed back a year, Guerrero will arrive to find a new manager in Charlie Montoyo and a mostly new coaching staff. A return to contention hinges on how the Blue Jays manage to fill in around their budding star, as there’s very little certainty on the roster beyond him. 

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Posted in MLB, Top Fantasy Picks

MLB InGame Showdowns

Another two games are set for InGame action.  A maximum of 5 swaps are allowed in this contest with play time of 5 consecutive minutes necessary before a starting player can be benched. Each entry will receive 2 Power Multiplier which can be applied to any starting player to receive 2x points for a duration of 15 minutes respectively. Check out the matchups previews below and play.

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Orioles at Blue Jays Preview

The Toronto Blue Jays seemingly can’t buy a break at home, as they failed to take advantage of a sterling pitching performance in their last outing to fall to 1-10 in their last 11 contests at the Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays (26-35) bid to change the narrative on Thursday as they open a four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles (19-41).

Sam Gaviglio scattered three hits over seven scoreless innings on Wednesday for Toronto, but his offense failed to get it in gear as it struck out 15 times in a 3-0 setback in 13 frames against the New York Yankees. Kendrys Morales had two of his team’s four hits for the Blue Jays, who have lost seven of their last eight and 17 of 22. Baltimore knows a thing or two about losing skids as it owns the majors’ worst mark, but it did record consecutive victories for just the fourth time this season after capping a two-game interleague sweep of the New York Mets with Wednesday afternoon’s 1-0 triumph. Manny Machado saw his eight-game hitting streak halted in the matinee, but his sacrifice fly in the eighth inning proved to be the difference.

TV: 7:07 p.m. ET, MASN (Baltimore), Sportsnet (Toronto)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Orioles RH David Hess (2-2, 3.47 ERA)) vs. Blue Jays LH Jaime Garcia (2-4, 6.08)

Hess sustained a hard-luck defeat on May 30 after Bryce Harper’s solo homer in the third inning accounted for his lone damage among four hits in six innings of a 2-0 setback versus Washington. The 24-year-old rookie, who took over for Chris Tillman in the rotation, has helped a beleaguered bullpen by pitching six or more innings in three of his first four starts. Hess threw a first-pitch strike to 17 of the 23 batters he faced to get ahead in the count against the Nationals.

Garcia was blitzed for four runs on seven hits in a season-low 1 2/3 innings during Friday’s 5-2 setback versus Detroit. The 31-year-old has allowed the opposition to bat a robust .291 against him this season. Danny Valencia is 2-for-3 in a small sample size versus Garcia, but the left-hander won his lone start against Baltimore despite being touched for five runs on 10 hits — including two homers – in 5 1/3 innings.

WALK-OFFS

1. Toronto LF Curtis Granderson is 0-for-17 with nine strikeouts in his last five contests.

2. Baltimore CF Adam Jones is 17-for-42 with six runs scored in his last 10 games.

3. Blue Jays top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. exited Wednesday’s Double-A game against Akron with an apparent leg injury after sliding into second base in the fourth inning.

Mariners at Rays Preview

Nelson Cruz is enjoying his best stretch of the campaign and the Seattle slugger looks for his seventh multi-hit outing in nine games Thursday when the Mariners open a four-game series against the host Tampa Bay Rays. Cruz is 12-for-31 with three homers during the stretch after going deep for the 11th time this season during Wednesday’s 7-5 loss to the Houston Astros.

Seattle had a five-game winning streak halted with Wednesday’s setback but owns a one-game lead over Houston in the American League West due to a 14-4 stretch. Shortstop Jean Segura went 5-for-9 in two games against the Astros and the back-to-back multi-hit outings raise his major league-leading count in that category to 27. Tampa Bay has scored only 12 runs during a six-game slide and manager Kevin Cash defended the recent practice of starting a reliever after Jonny Venters retired only one batter and allowed five runs in the first inning of Wednesday’s 11-2 loss to the Washington Nationals. “(Wednesday) was one of those gut-wrenching days,” Cash said afterward. “It didn’t go our way and smacked us right in the face. One bad outing, one bad whatever you want to call it. I don’t think it’s fair to get away from it.”

TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, ROOT Sports Northwest (Seattle), FS Sun (Tampa Bay)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Mariners RH Mike Leake (5-3, 4.71 ERA) vs. Rays RH Ryne Stanek (1-1, 3.65)

Leake allowed two runs and six hits over seven innings against Tampa Bay on Friday but didn’t get a victory because closer Edwin Diaz blew the save in the ninth inning. The 30-year-old Leake is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in three career starts against the Rays but has struggled with Carlos Gomez (8-for-20, one home run). Leake has a solid 1.66 ERA over his past three starts and hasn’t issued a walk over his last four turns.

The Rays are 3-5 when opening with a reliever as Stanek will start a game for the third time under the unique approach. The 26-year-old is unscored upon in seven of his past eight appearances and has allowed only three hits in 8 2/3 innings during the stretch. Stanek retired all five Mariners he faced in a relief appearance Saturday and has given up one hit in 2 2/3 innings in two career outings versus Seattle.

WALK-OFFS

1. The Mariners swept the Rays in Seattle last weekend while holding Tampa Bay to five runs.

2. Tampa Bay announced that it will recall 1B Jake Bauers from Triple-A Durham prior to Thursday’s contest.

3. Seattle released veteran LHP Marc Rzepczynski five days after designating him for assignment.

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Posted in MLB

Daily Fantasy Baseball News

FanPicks (click to play) breakdowns Thursday early MLB daily fantasy baseball news!

Los Angeles Angels win third straight

Albert Pujols and C.J. Cron each batted in runs in support of starter Hector Santiago and the Los Angeles Angels. L.A. has disposed of the Tampa Bay Rays 5-1 Thursday afternoon. Pujols opened up the scoring with a single off of rookie Blake Snell (1-4) in the sixth inning . Cron followed up with a groudout that turned into a throwing error by second baseman Logan Forsythe. One more run came in to score on the play that could’ve been a double play and ended the inning. The Halo’s have added two more runs in the eight inning when when Cron pulled a sacrifice fly when bases where loaded. They pulled off a double steal to the perfection with Mike Trout stealing home and Pujols grabbing third base.

The Rays have lost 19 of their previous 22 games. The Angels, on the other hand, have won their last three, their longest stretch in over two month. Santiago (6-4) gave up three hits in seven innings of work. The lefty brought is month of July record up to 8-1 since having been acquired by the Angels in 2014. He allowed four walks and struck out nine on the side.

 

Piscotty halts Pirates streak to seven

Stephen Piscotty knocked a three-run home run. Randal Grichuk clubbed one out too. Those two homers was all it took for the St. Louis Cardinals to defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5 to 1 Thursday. They avoid a four game series sweep, as well as put an end to the Bucs seven game winning streak.

Adam Wainwright (8-5) worked seven innings for the Cards win. They take over the National League Central division second spot in the process. Unfortunately for St. Louis, all-star third baseman Matt Carpenter  joins Brandon Moss and Brayan Pena on the 15 day disabled-list Thursday morning. The eleventh Piscotty long ball against pitcher Arquimedes Caminero was object to video review, but was eventually confirmed as a home run.

Pirates starter Tyler Glasnow (0-1) gave up four runs in five-and-one-third innings in his major leagues debut. The 22 year old righty was the eleventh starter used by Pittsburgh this season. Like Steven Brault earlier in this series, Glasnow hit his first career MLB ball.

Posted in MLB

Fantasy MLB Baseball Preview

Toronto Blue Jays vs Tampa Bay Rays

It’s that time of the year where the highly anticipated MLB season will freshly begin. With not major changes made during the off season, the Toronto Blue Jays will be traveling to Tampa Bay to face the Rays. FanPicks is proud to bring you this Fantasy MLB Baseball preview. Come play in our MLB Grand Slam Contest where you can win up to a $1 million this week at FanPicks.

 

Fantasy MLB Baseball preview

The 2016 campaign starts for the Toronto Blue Jays this Sunday, when they put their healthier Marcus Stroman to the mound for the first game of a3 game series with Tampa Bay.

Stroman only had 4 appearances last season because of an ACL injury but was undefeated with a 1.67 ERA. He returned this postseason with 3 starts on a 4.19 ERA. With David Price gone to the Red Sox, Stroman will have his starring role in the Blue Jays’ rotation.

The Blue Jays are still going to rely on their offense regardless of their pitching staff. They were terrorizing the plate last year and led the league in HR (232), runs scored (891), slugging % (.457) and on-base percentage (.797)

Josh Donaldson will be teaming up once more with his mates Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion to pace their offense  as they combined last season for 120 HR and 937 RBIs.

Justin Smoak however isn’t much of a hitter compared to the others but is a .316 career batting avg against the Ray’s starter Chris Archer.

The Jays are 7-3 in their last 10 games against the Rays.

 

On the Rays side, there hasn’t been lots of changes over the offseason but they always remained competitive despite lacking established stars in their lineup.

Archer will be on the mound Sunday against a solid Blue Jays line. He’s proven before that he can handle Toronto’s offense in his young career as he held the Blue Jays in his career to .174 against him. Also, the heavy hitters trio of Donaldson, Bautista, and Encarnacion are only 12 for 86 (.139) against Archer. If Archer can neutralize them again this Sunday, it will be a huge plus for the Rays, who don’t have a firepower that can match Toronto’s offense. They actually had a .245 Batting Avg at home last season, the 3rd worst in the majors.

Tampa Bay was just 25th last season in the MLB in runs (644), but were 14th in slugging % (.406).

Logan Forsythe and Evan Longoria will have to carry without a doubt the bulk of the Rays’ with some help of their newcomer Corey Dickerson, who hit .304 with 10 HR last year for the Rockies.

Tampa Bay is 6-4 in its last 10 home games against Toronto.

 

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Posted in MLB

Washington Nationals vs Tampa Bay Rays – 6/17/15 MLB Fantasy Sports, Baseball Picks, Odds & Predictions

1 DAY FANTASY SPORTSMajor League Baseball fantasy draft managers can tune to ESPN2 TV at 7PM Eastern Time to catch the ballgame between the Tampa Bay Rays and Washington Nationals. After these two clubs met on Monday and Tuesday in Tampa Bay the scene moves to Washington on Wednesday June 17th for Game 3 of this four game interleague series.

Heading into Tuesday the Rays were sitting in first place in the AL East with a mark of 36-29 and one game ahead of the New York Yankees. Despite some rather weak hitting numbers the Rays have been led by a very good pitching staff. They sit number three in Team ERA (3.26) and fourth in MLB in WHIP (1.19). The Rays won Game 1 of this series on Monday by the score of 6-1 to extend their win streak at the time to four games.

The Washington Nationals after their loss on Monday fell to 33-31 and sit 1 ½ games back of the first place New York Mets in the NL East division. Both the Nationals and Rays sit in very weak divisions. The Nationals are not getting the type of pitching they did a season ago as they sit in the bottom half of the league in both Team ERA (3.96) and WHIP (1.32) which are not very good in the National League where pitchers hit.

1 day fantasy footballTampa Bay Rays 3B: Evan Longoria is batting .276 on the year with six homers and 29 RBIs. He has hit in five straight games and is coming off a two hit game on Tuesday as the Rays were crushed 16-4 at home to the Nationals.

Tampa Bay Rays 2B: Logan Forsythe has hit Nationals pitching very well in their two games this season. He is 5 for 9 but the bad news is that all five hits were singles. Forsythe has hit seven homers and driven in 30 RBIs on the campaign.

Tampa Bay Rays CF: Kevin Kiermaier is 3 for 9 in the first two games of this four game interleague series. He is hitting .255 on the year with four homers and only 14 RBIs. On the upside he has multiple hits in three of his past five games.

Tampa Bay Rays LF: David DeJesus should see action on Wednesday against a right handed pitcher. The 12 year veteran is batting .295 with five homers and 20 RBIs. He looks to break out of a 1 for 11 slump at the plate.

Free Baseball Cash Draft Beat the StreakTampa Bay Rays P: Young Matt Andriese is 25 year old who has eight career appearances and four starts in his rookie campaign. He is 1-1 with an ERA of 3.76 and WHIP of 1.48. He worked 5 2/3rd scoreless innings on Friday at home to the Chicago White Sox where he allowed no earned runs.

 

Washington Nationals RF: Bryce Harper is having a great season batting .346 with 22 homers and 52 RBIs on the year. He is coming off a three hit night on Tuesday in the 16-4 road win at Tampa Bay. Harper is 8 for his past 13 at bats. MLB fantasy draft managers like the fact that Bryce Harper gets extra base hits with a .735 slugging percentage.

Washington Nationals 3B: Yunel Escobar is batting .322. He doesn’t hit for much power with three homers plus 21 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .401. Escobar is having a great month of June with a batting average of .364.

Washington Nationals CF: Denard Span bats .303 with five homers and 20 RBIs. He will carry a four game win streak into Wednesday as Span comes off a two hit night on Tuesday.

Washington Nationals 2B: Danny Espinoza has improved his batting average 21 points in one night to .267 as he goes 5 for 5 on Tuesday. On the year Espinoza has eight homers and 18 RBIs season to date.

Free Baseball Cash DraftWashington Nationals P: Jordan Zimmermann in 5-4 on the year with an ERA of 3.74 and WHIP of 1.38. He has struggled in his past two recent starts by allowing ten earned runs, 19 hits and three walks in 8 1/3rd innings pitched.

 

MLB One Day Real Money Fantasy League Picks

P: Matt Andriese (Rays)
RF: Bryce Harper (Nationals)
3B: Evan Longoria (Rays)
2B: Logan Forsythe (Rays)
CF: Denard Span (Nationals)
LF: David DeJesus (Rays)

Posted in MLB